When asked specific questions about the timetable and process for the role, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said, “An appointment of the prime minister’s independent adviser will be made in due course.” This is the same comment the Cabinet Office has offered for the past month.
The Lib Dem’s Cabinet Office spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, said: “The trickle of allegations of cronyism against this government risks becoming a flood and the Ministerial Code is only honoured in the breach.
“People will draw their own conclusions without much difficulty about why the Johnson government is in no rush to appoint a successor to Sir Alex Allan. Their conduct, however, simply serves to undermine the already tarnished reputation of politics as a whole.”
Prime minister implicated
Failure to publish the register of financial interests comes at a sensitive time for Boris Johnson, as there are ongoing probes into the six-figure refurbishment of Downing Street.
The work was allegedly bankrolled in part by Tory donors, with sums advanced out of party funds. Normally, this would be expected to have been included in the register – without it, funding for the refurb has remained shrouded in secrecy.
“The prime minister has very serious questions to answer,” said Pete Wishart. “Setting up a slush fund to pay for the refurbishment of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street flat is not just grossly inappropriate at a time when families across the UK are facing poverty and hardship – but it reeks of cronyism.
“Until all accounts are fully published the public will rightly want to know where the money came from and whether or not donors are expecting some grubby favours in return.”
Last week it was revealed that the Electoral Commission has written to Downing Street seeking answers, and this week the Daily Mail reported on legal advice submitted to the commission, suggesting an unreported five-figure donation to the Tory Party may have breached electoral law.
Specific allegations such as this are almost impossible to prove or disprove if the government stops regular releases of once-normal disclosures.
Every major institution that could oversee ministers has a very tight remit, on the assumption that the Ministerial Code will oversee everything. This means they are now reluctant to step in.
The parliamentary commissioner for standards, for instance, has refused to look into the Downing Street refurb, while the chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life recently wrote that it will not look into the independent adviser vacancy, because its remit does not allow them to look at individual cases.
The Conservative Party has not responded to openDemocracy’s past requests for comment on this, though has insisted elsewhere: “Party funds are not being used to pay for any refurbishment to the Downing Street estate.”Print